As we approach the holidays, let's remember the following:
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the vacant space inside of someone's life today.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
This morning started out poorly. As I dragged myself out of bed, eyes half open, and stumbled to the bathroom to do my business, I stepped squarely on a deposit of cat yack on the bathroom floor. Not being a morning person only added to the distress and confusion over what had just squished between my toes. And I’m sure the cat did not understand anything I was saying about what she had done. Note to self: even though it is distressing, it might be helpful to turn on the lights before getting under way in the morning.
I saw “Capote” over Thanksgiving weekend and I give it four bells out of four.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know much about him and wasn’t sure what the angle would be: would it delve into the crime that prompted his book, “In Cold Blood,” or would it focus on a flamboyant and eccentric character? It was neither.
“Capote” is a fascinating study of Truman himself and gets into the psychology of why, and how, he wrote the first true-crime novel. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the lead and is outstanding. I’ll never be able to look at him again and think of anything but Truman (just like I can’t look at Ralph Fiennes and think of anything but Nazi). The film adeptly draws you into Truman’s personality and leaves you wondering throughout whether he really cares about the crime’s victims and the perpetrators, or is he just there for the story. Along the way, there are some nice surprises about his social circle (including the fact that he was a childhood friend of Harper Lee, of “To Kill A Mockingbird” fame). Other than a flashback to the crime that prompted the book, the movie was pretty tame.
I think we have a “Best Actor” nominee here, so see it if you can. It’s a good one.
Friday, November 18, 2005
I know I’m a few days late, but I have an affinity for this holiday. For one thing, it is my birthday. Since my mom always flew the flag on our house when it was any friend’s birthday, naturally I thought everyone knew it was my birthday due to the many Old Glory sightings on 11/11. Yes, I was disappointed when I learned at a young age that it had nothing to do with me.
I have come to appreciate Veteran’s Day by growing in my appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who have served in our Armed Forces. My family is full of veterans: my father, four uncles and two cousins, and a great-great grandfather who was in the Civil War and spent time in Andersonville Prison. I have seen many photos of fighter jets with noses painted like sharks. I’ve admired the dress uniforms. I’ve seen a Purple Heart. I’ve heard many stories, both of those who served and how those left behind survived in the absence of loved ones. Most of all, I’ve absorbed the respect and dignity that is portrayed and offered by the ones who sacrificed for our country. I am proud to be one who grew up as I have, surrounded by heroes who love me and teach me. I’m a much better person for it.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Recently I attended a worship service where we sang, “Lord, I Want To Be A Christian.” This song is very familiar to many, including me, but for some reason, I was very moved by the words this time. The verse that hit me was, “Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.”
I’ve been thinking about the words to this song, and why it affected me this time and never before. It has reminded me about my heart, and why its condition is so important to God. I don’t know about you, but I think it is easy to become focused on the mind. We seek to fill it with information because we think the more information in there, the better. We think that Bible study is important because it feeds our minds. We forget about some key verses about the heart like “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) Or, “Create in me a pure heart, O God. And renew a right spirit in me.” (PS. 51:10) Or, “Search me and know my heart…” (PS. 139:23). I’m not suggesting that knowledge isn’t important, but the Bible doesn’t say, “The Lord looks at the mind…” or “Create in me a pure mind…”.
Obviously, God is trying to point out that there is a big difference between our mind and our heart. To me, it is saying that we can think we are right in our minds (no pun intended), and act as such, but our heart may tell a completely different story. We can hide behind the front we project with our minds, but the truth of our character lies in our hearts.
Back to the song. It says we must be Christians in our hearts, not our minds. We must be more holy in our hearts. We should seek to be more like Jesus in our hearts. And the one that moved was to be more loving in my heart. I was confronted by the fact that many times my heart is pretty ugly. As I seek to draw closer to Jesus, I want it to go beyond my head to transform my heart more and more. Let us not forget the matters of the heart.
Friday, November 04, 2005
… with rules that exist for the sake of simply being rules, with no regard for sensibility. Like companies that won’t order something because it isn’t on the “approved list,” even when that something is cheaper than what IS on the approved list. Or organizations that won’t give money to a worthy cause because it is outside their money distribution guidelines, never mind that they could save someone who is starving to death. Unfortunately, I have to remain vague here so as not to incriminate myself. But do these types of situations irk anybody else, or is it just me? What if Rosa Parks had said, “Well, I better get to the back of the bus because that’s where they told me to sit.”
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I didn’t think much about Rosa Parks until she died last week, but for some reason, her death has stirred a lot of things within me. I came across the following quote of hers, with I think is profound:
“The time had just come when I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed, I suppose. They placed me under arrest. And I wasn’t afraid. I don’t know why I wasn’t, but I didn’t feel afraid. I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen, even in Montgomery, Alabama.”
The reality of the lives we live today has been shaped by what Rosa Parks did. Her courage was the catalyst for change and justice in a social system that was clearly wrong. I wonder if the perpetrators of the racial injustices knew they were wrong, or were they just enjoying the power they had?
It is probably considered a privileged existence for me to have not lived through the turmoil of the 50s. Maybe that makes it easy for me to be astounded that this diminutive woman (in size, but not in spirit) took such a stand and risked her life. I have no reason to doubt her when she said that she was not afraid, but that is equally astonishing. It has been interesting to see some of her contemporaries sharing at the various memorial services in her honor. There is a whole horde of small, old black women who still speak to injustice with power and conviction!
I can’t help but wonder if I would ever have the courage to do anything like what she did. Only with God.